NHS tempers egg link to prostate cancer

The National Health Service has hit back at recent media reports suggesting egg consumption can increase the likelihood of men developing prostate cancer.

The press articles were based on a study by the Harvard School of Public Health which followed 27,607 medical professionals from 1994, recording every four years their diet, smoking status, physical characteristics and tested them for prostate cancer.

Researchers found that men who ate more than two-and-a-half eggs a week were 81% more likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ate less than half an egg a week.

But the NHS has questioned the strength of the findings, highlighting the small number of deaths in the study group, (199 out of 27,607 subjects), and suggesting it may be down to chance.

“Furthermore, these results are inconsistent with previous research, which found no significant association between eggs and prostate cancer. The findings will need to be confirmed in more robust studies before any firm conclusions can be drawn,” said an article on the NHS Choices website.

In addition, the men who consumed more eggs were also found to have a higher body mass index, exercise less, were more likely to be smokers and to have a family history of prostate cancer.

Dr Carrie Ruxton, nutrition consultant to the British Egg Information Service, echoed the NHS conclusions. “Only three previous studies have examined associations between mortality from prostate cancer and egg consumption. One showed a positive association, one showed no association, and a third showed an inverse association.

“Therefore, the evidence is highly inconsistent, suggesting that eggs in themselves are probably not related to cancer risk, but are a marker for other associated factors.”

Dr Ruxton also questioned the association between increased cholestoral and cancer found by the US study’s authors. “Controlled trials show that a high intake of eggs does not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels,” she said.

“This means that the cholesterol in eggs has a negligible impact on blood cholesterol levels, and is unlikely to impact on cancer risk.”

The NHS advised that, despite the seemingly shocking figure of an 81% increase in the number of cancers in men who consumed eggs, other factors were more important in preventing cancer.

“It is probably best to wait for more conclusive research before cutting eggs out of your diet,” said the article.

What do you think of the research and the way it was reported? Will this research change the way you consume eggs? Will it damage the egg industry? Visit the Poultry Platform forums on FWi and join the discussion.


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